Ginebra head coach Tim Cone knows Justin Brownlee so well that his resident import’s ‘occasional clunker’ does not bother him at all.
The PBA’s winningest mentor always knew that he’d pick himself up following bad games, particularly after scoring just 20 points on 7-of-25 shooting in a 93-71 loss to Rain or Shine in a rough start to the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup.
Brownlee did prove his coach right, showing his usual form to power the Barangay past Johnny O’Bryant and rivals Meralco, 99-91, Sunday night.
The two-time Best Import finished with a game-high 34 points on a 45-percent clip, on top of five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 43 minutes.
“Like I told you guys last game, he turned in one of his clunkers. He’ll have an occasional clunker,” said Cone after the match at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“I always tell my wife that if you turn on the TV and you never watched the PBA and then you watch Justin in one of those clunker games of his, you’ll think ‘Why the heck is he here in this league? How could he possibly be an import?’
“But, you just know he is going to bounce back. His history is that he bounces back and he has done that throughout the five, six years that he has been here,” added the owner of a record 24 championships.
Brownlee, like what he’s done many times in the past, showed up when needed the most. He scored Ginebra’s last seven points to put away for good a gutsy Bolts side, who tried to come back from 12 down early in the fourth.
“We knew Justin would come out and be Justin,” said Cone, who’s with the St. John’s University product for nine conferences now.
For the 64-year-old bench tactician, Sunday night was a reminder of why it is never a good idea to doubt the man that steered the club to five titles.
“I think the moment you start to doubt Justin, I think you’re a little bit silly,” he quipped. “I just think you just got to keep with him and stay with him and he is going to deliver like he did tonight, like he did in the playoffs.
“I remember halfway through the last conference he was here, everyone was wondering, ‘Are we going to change Justin? Does he need to be changed?’ and then we swept through a championship,” added Cone.
“Beware if you doubt Justin.”